What does a translator do?
While interpreters focus on the spoken word, translators specialise in the written word. Translators usually translate material from a foreign language that they have a fluent knowledge of into their native language. So, if you’re wondering how to be a translator, bear in mind the requirement to be at least bilingual.
When it comes to answering the question ‘What does a translator do?’, there’s no one answer to describe their daily tasks. From editing content to carrying out research, translator jobs are varied and interesting.
As translators often specialise in different industries, one translator role won’t be identical to another. Working in translation can involve translating a wide variety of industry material, from medical, legal and financial documentation to advertising and marketing content. Literary translators specialise in translating fictional content, which is another area of translation in itself. When it comes to finding translator jobs, it’s advisable to concentrate on a sector that interests you.
What skills do I need to become a translator?
Well, as mentioned above, you’ll need to be fluent (or nearly fluent/close to native level) in a second language. But to be a translator, you’ll also need:
- An awareness of the culture of the country your second language comes from.
- Strong writing skills in your native language.
- Attention to detail and a curious mind.
- While it’s not essential, a degree in the language or a specialist field would be helpful.
A cultural understanding of a foreign language is best achieved by living and working in that country, ideally for a long period of time. Placements can be completed as part of a degree programme, or you can live abroad independently. However, as it can quite a competitive field to obtain work in, many translators will have a degree and possibly a Master’s in Translation.
What job opportunities are there for translators?
Translators can work in a variety of settings. These include in-house translator roles within translation agencies and those with large organisations, such as the UN.
The majority of translators will work as freelancers. It’s best to consider early on whether this is a pattern of working that would work well for you. If so, it’s worth bearing in mind that it can take a while to expand your list of clients as a freelance translator. So, some translators will have other jobs on the side at the beginning, while they begin to make a name for themselves.
How much do translators earn?
If you’re wondering ‘How much do translators earn?’, then the answer is an average of £29,000 per annum. The starting salary for translators is £18,000-£21,000, while more experienced translators can earn over £30,000 per year.
How much does a Translator earn?
How can I improve my language skills?
If you’re wondering how to become a translator, then a good first step is perfecting a language. For those who already have a rudimentary understanding of a foreign language, a great method for becoming more familiar with the language is to read plenty of material in that language. To ensure the grammar and syntax are accurate, make sure you read material from reputable publications.
Another way to improve your language skills is to watch TV shows with subtitles on in a foreign language, so you become more familiar with how the words translate from a written perspective. Again, make sure the ones you’re watching are accurate. One way to do this is to watch a foreign film in English (where possible) with subtitles turned on in the language you’re learning.
Be pedantic when it comes to grammar. As mentioned before, to be a translator you need to exercise a good level of attention to detail. So, why not practise grammatical rules and get in the habit of starting to proofread everything? Make sure you know how to use commas and colons, for example. It’s also advisable to take a writing skills course, whether that be a general one or something more specialised. Writing courses that focus on specific areas, such as court reporting, financial content or medical reports can be great for those looking to specialise.
It’s important to remember that improving language skills is something even experienced translators will continue to do throughout their careers. So, you should always be thinking ‘How can I improve my language skills?’.
Would you be interested in becoming a translator? We offer language courses at GCSE and A-level. So, whether you’re looking to learn a new language or gain an A-level qualification so you can go to university, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call on 0121 630 3000 to speak to one of our learning advisers.